5 Things to Read on Improving Health

Read the latest on everything from cancer death rates to the health effects of clutter in this week’s roundup of stories on improving health.

Feeling stressed? Could be the clutter.

Researchers are beginning to find that a “cluttered home … can be a stressful home,” according to an article in The New York Times. Having too many things around can lift levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It can also negatively impact mental well-being in other ways.

Cancer death rates continue to drop

Since peaking in the early 1990s, cancer death rates have fallen steadily for the last 25 years, the Associated Press reports. Experts attribute the decline to lower smoking rates and improvements in early detection. But it’s not all good news: obesity-related cancer deaths are on the rise, and cancer is still America’s No. 2 killer.

Is that new knee really necessary?

In the span of 10 years, the rate of knee replacement surgeries doubled. But patients are often still in pain post-surgery, and some may “outlive” the implant and need a new one. And they’re pricey, averaging $31,000 a pop. One doctor told Kaiser Health News bluntly: “We do too many knee replacements.”

The “Wild West” world of supplements

A patient resource published in JAMA Internal Medicine underscores that most people don’t need to take vitamins or nutritional supplements. The resource provides advice and answers common questions people usually ask their doctors about supplements. One reason to cut out vitamins? “There’s not much regulation that happens before companies put these products on the market,” the author told Reuters, calling the industry the “Wild West.”

Flu sickens 7 million Americans so far

About 7 million people have gotten the flu so far this season. As many as 84,000 of them were hospitalized because of it. While those numbers are large, the current flu season is much milder than last year’s, which was one of the roughest on record. Read more from STAT News.

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